Why We Still Need Affirmative Action

Removing race from the admissions equation forces schools to be blind to one of the key factors in people's lives

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A protestor in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 10, 2012 in Washington.

Right now the Supreme Court holds the fate of affirmative action in its hands, and things don’t look good. Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin pits a school that believes affirmative action and diversity are key to its mission against a young white woman who failed to get into the university and blames that on the school’s use of race as a factor in the admissions process. Experienced court watchers are certain that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor will side with the university and that Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts will side with Fisher. Once again, Justice Anthony Kennedy is the swing vote, and this time he appears to be leaning toward the conservatives. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because she worked on the case as solicitor general.)

(MORE: Will Same-Sex Marriage Reach the Supreme Court?)

The end of affirmative action would have profound implications for higher education, leaving the U.S.’s top universities and graduate schools whiter. Because intergenerational mobility is tied to college attendance and joining America’s leadership is linked to admission to the top selective universities and graduate programs, the removal of affirmative action would only increase the already overwhelming whiteness of the upper echelon of American society. A study by Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger found that graduating from selective universities does not increase the earnings likelihood for middle-class whites but does significantly increase the earnings likelihood for black and Hispanic students and those from less affluent backgrounds, so affirmative action has a direct impact on the economic future of America. I have seen this at work in my own family.

I do not think I am any smarter or harder-working than my father, but I have outearned and outachieved him because he grew up during segregation while I grew up in the 1970s, during the early wave of diversity admissions at private schools that had not previously been open to black and Hispanic students. The greater educational and professional opportunities I had because of affirmative action multiplied my chances of success and gave my life a very different shape than my dad’s. Affirmative action provided us with a slight counterbalance to the powerful force called white privilege. Doing away with racial consideration would reduce the black and brown presence at selective schools and limit intergenerational class mobility even further. The problem is not that students who don’t belong are being admitted; it’s not that they can’t earn a place; it’s that blacks and Hispanics are losing the lifelong battle against the constantly accumulating benefits of white privilege. The places I studied and worked did not have a quota system but had an understanding that a diverse body is inherently better than a monolithic one for all involved. Affirmative action is not merely a corrective for past imbalance but also a way of ensuring that the American Dream is available to all.

(MORE: What Asian Americans Reveal About Affirmative Action)

Removing race from the admissions equation forces schools to be blind to one of the key factors in people’s lives. Quota systems became unconstitutional years ago, so we are not talking about a mechanical relationship to race in admissions. There are no black slots in a class, nor should there be. At the University of Texas, as at many schools, race is one of a dozen or more factors considered in a holistic review of a student.

I cannot be seen through a color-blind lens and do not wish to be. Race is an important factor of who I am and how I am perceived, which is the case for all human beings, at least in America. And pretending not to see race doesn’t mean you don’t see it. The deans of Harvard and Yale’s law schools recently wrote a joint editorial saying, “We do not understand how a rule forbidding all consideration of race could possibly be enforced.” If an applicant mentions race, or if his or her race becomes clear during the application process, which often includes face-to-face meetings, then what charade should follow? It sounds like a sort of intellectual Prohibition would result, and as we all know, people drank during Prohibition; they just did it secretly.

(MORECounterpoint: How Affirmative Action Backfires at Universities)

Pushing race into the shadows is not the answer. Despite several decades of affirmative action, the black unemployment rate remains double the white unemployment rate, over 13% vs. under 7%. Blacks are, studies show, half as likely to get a job offer as whites presenting identical qualifications, and blacks with a clean record do no better in searching for low-wage work than whites with a felony conviction. Blacks remain severely underrepresented on campuses and in occupations requiring a degree. Yet in spite of all that, many white people have somehow come to view their race as the object of discrimination. A question Chief Justice Roberts asked repeatedly at the hearing in the Fisher case was, “When will we reach critical mass?” Meaning, how many black and Hispanic students will it take to satisfy the goal of diversity? Or, to put it more broadly, when will affirmative action no longer be needed? The question cannot be answered by any precise metric, but we are nowhere near that point.

87 comments
RobertSneed
RobertSneed

Khristina K,you said its the Crackers world ,don,t be decieved woman its GODS WORLD,,and people alike,no color stigmatation

RobertSneed
RobertSneed

G,O,P, Grand,Old,Puppets  they are showing their old ancient human behavior does not mix with todays times,,it,s like water and oil...

RobertSneed
RobertSneed

Fox News is the base for the G O P,, each and everytime the Republi/kkklans want to or try to shame Obama they run to Fox News thats the KKKLAN BASE,, Fox News

RobertSneed
RobertSneed

GOP don,t throw stones at a glass house as you can see ,,your party is slowly but surely condemming C Christy,,S Pellan ,E Cantor etc the list go,es on  Why should the American people put Thugs in the White House who do not represent the Democrates nor our policies  ,, 

RobertSneed
RobertSneed

These Ameri/kkklans Republi/kkklans have no solutions for our American Policies,,but instead the GOP rather bash our second term President for his high flying color Policies..GOP do not hate appreciate..You want the White House with your ISIS POLICIES ,Republi/kkklans do not appreciate our Government,,GOP solute the black flag of ISIS.....

lbuckley7890
lbuckley7890

Quote: "Despite several decades of affirmative action, the black unemployment rate remains double the white unemployment rate, over 13% vs. under 7%. Blacks are, studies show, half as likely to get a job offer as whites presenting identical qualifications, and blacks with a clean record do no better in searching for low-wage work than whites with a felony conviction. "


So you are saying AA has NOT worked but people should still keep doing it?

punia101
punia101

And how do you guys down there opposing affirmative action plan to actually get rid of it? Guess what, there is no way. Minority students that get admitted into these schools are not less qualified than the white student, because numbers do not represent an entire person. The SAT is supposed to be a sort of aptitude test, yet those from a higher economic background an pump thousands of dollars in giving their kids SAT classes and then achieving that magic SAT score. The truth of the matter is that most of these upper-class people are white. As an Asian going through college admissions, I would gladly give up my spot for a minority student who has had to struggle to get their 1800 score and have had to balance a life of trouble. Most of these "black scholarships" also have an economic requirement, which is completely justified. The minority student faces massive discrimination when they graduate from college and get into the workforce; it is a complete fallacy to think that we are currently living in a post-racist society. We are not living in a meritocracy; get that Utopian vision out of your head. Diversity is important and necessary. The white student that didn't get into Harvard will still get into an exceptional university, and if he/she does work as hard as people claim she does, she will have no problem getting a job. We need to look past ourselves and support society in America.


Also check out: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/april/walton-affirmative-action-042612.html

White students DO NOT deserve it more than black/Hispanic students.

AsianAmerican
AsianAmerican

NO! WE DON'T NEED RACE-BASED AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN COLLEGE ADMISSION!

A nation that aspires to achieve racial equality cannot and should not support institutionalized racist policy.We can only end racial discrimination by ending racial discrimination, not by starting a new kind of racial discrimination, such as the racial preference policy in college admissions which is still widely practiced by many higher institutions.

The racial preference affirmative action in college and university admissions has its unintended consequences which the proponents of affirmative action conveniently and continuously ignore. Self-righteous social engineering policy, which might even benefit one or few individuals, such as Justice Sotomayor, always fails on a grand scale.And once again, it was so eloquently argued by Law Professor Gail Heriot in her recent essay, "The Sad Irony of Affirmative Action". (http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-sad-irony-of-affirmative-action)

Asian Americans Against Affirmative Action (AAAAA)

Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/AgainstAA

dbnupefromdp
dbnupefromdp

@ItsKrisB @toure @timeideas In Michigan since AA voted out, only benefit is to foreign Asian students. Fact.

JasonBiggs33
JasonBiggs33

@ItsKrisB @Toure @TIMEIdeas i guess when you are a college dropout, you do need affirmative action

Joshua Allen
Joshua Allen

One more thing I'd like to add. You say Blacks and Hispanics Toure, but the reality is that mostly blacks benefit from Affirmative Action. I lost counts of how many scholarships in my high school said "Blacks only" but very few said "Hispanics only." I would say about 5:1 ratio (and that is generous). You are not fighting for Hispanics Toure, only blacks which is fine. But don't sit there and tell me that you are fighting for all people when you really only care about your own race. 

Joshua Allen
Joshua Allen

First, I'm a Hispanic. So don't say that I'm only supporting my race. I grew up in a low-income white/hispanic family. Even when I was young, I thought affirmative action was wrong and I still do to this day. To tell me that I should get privileges just because I happen to be a certain race or skin color is discrimination pure and simple. No matter how one chooses to dress it up, white people are being discriminated against. How can we claim to a color blind society when race is used as a criterion? In addition, there are poor whites as well that have the same social problems as poor people of color. The problem is not skin color or race, it's economic. The problem is also family. If a family has no expectations for their children then how can our society try and push them to achieve  All that is happening is that those that are truly trying to make something of themselves are discriminated against because they are not from a poor black family.

Again Toure, despite how you try and dress it up, it is discrimination for race. Racial inequality or not, and affirmative action is not going to solve the problem. In fact it has not worked as many have not taken advantage of it. 

Christina K
Christina K

Its a white man's world and we're just living in it. White people keep pretending that this isn't the case. :D

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

We have black president now. That should spell the end of this experiment.

M_Vaughn
M_Vaughn

You are entitled to your opinion. But let me be clear and very straightforward.

You back peddled for the sake of credibilty at the end of this article. Thank you but I saw it regardless of your efforts to camouflage your statements.

Now segregation is gone, it has been for a long time now. That doesn't support your argument. You should have edited that out.

Secondly, this article is heavily targeted at whites and supported by black and hispanic references. You have forgotten a large chunk of ”America”. Thus, you misrepresented ”America” by leaving the other races out.

Lastly, America and the dream we all strive to achieve is written in the constitution. You can define the terms. But for the improvement of American life and educational standards, race is not a factor. America is a place for all races to succeed and build a life based off of your efforts not off of your race.

Last but not least, my racial background is compiled of Filipino, Italian, Spanish, Irish and my bloodline according to my last name is Welsh. You should remember all faces of America next time you write an article like this. Do not pick and choose.

M_Vaughn
M_Vaughn

You are entitled to your opinion. But let me be clear and very straightforward.

You back peddled for the sake of credibilty at the end of this article. Thank you but I saw it regardless of your efforts to camouflage your statements.

Now segregation is gone, it has been for a long time now. That doesn't support your argument. You should have edited that out.

Secondly, this article is heavily targeted at whites and supported by black and hispanic references. You have forgotten a large chunk of ”America”. Thus, you misrepresented ”America” by leaving the other races out.

Lastly, America and the dream we all strive to achieve is written in the constitution. You can define the terms. But for the improvement of American life and educational standards, race is not a factor. America is a place for all races to succeed and build a life based off of your efforts not off of your race.

Last but not least, my racial background is compiled of Filipino, Italian, Spanish, Irish and my bloodline according to my last name is Welsh. You should remember all faces of America next time you write an article like this. Do not pick and choose.

Heterotic
Heterotic

" The end of affirmative action would have profound implications for

higher education, leaving the U.S.’s top universities and graduate

schools whiter."

The profound implication is that the U.S. taxpayer would get more bang for the buck, actually educating more qualified students. If as a black one does not like that, study harder.

jmsramsey
jmsramsey

This is all plain nonsense!  No one should be admitted to a college or hired for a job on anything other than ability!  This weakens the college or corporation which in turn weakens the country.

ranger99
ranger99

"The places I studied and worked did not have a quota system but had an

understanding that a diverse body is inherently better than a monolithic

one for all involved."

Exactly why is a "diverse student body" such a beneficial thing?  I've never seen any real data supporting that theory. 

Besides, even within universities with diverse student populations, statistics show that people overwhelmingly "self-segregate" and have very little social interaction with those of races other than their own anyway.

Where exactly is this mythic benefit coming from?

romamar
romamar

Ms Fisher blaming affirmative action for not getting into UT is attention grabbing but probably not the only reason she didn't make the cut.  Maybe if she paid out of state tuition she'd get in. Universities are getting harder and harder to get into.  The Univ of Washington recently increased the # of out state/ international students admitted because they pay 3 times more tuition. If you were an in-state student, You could be valediction  class president and a 4.0 student and still not get into UW.

http://o.seattletimes.nwsource...

Steven Lemon
Steven Lemon

Justice Kagan recused herself because she "worked on the case as solicitor general"???

She also worked on the Obamacare law as solicitor general but she didn't chicken out on that one.

DG41
DG41

Any way you look at it, affirmative action is racist, discriminatory, and unethical. Is this author, Toure, saying that blacks aren't intelligent or industrious enough to compete with other races without giving them an edge or special consideration. That is B.S. My black friends and co-workers are extremely intelligent and skilled to compete equally with anyone. They would probably come out on top. To tell them them otherwise would be offensive. I agree with Dawn Berkley that part of the problem is black culture. Many blacks do not put education at the top of their lists. In the US, we have many, many young black men, some still in their teens, who have multiple babymamas. These young men have no way to support themselves much less their children. Some even appear to idolize the local thugs in their community. The same goes for the young women; they may have multiple children and each one has a different father. Entitlement programs make it easy to remain uneducated and unemployed.. 

scotty_sbh
scotty_sbh

chris matthews considered barack obama the "post-racial president." since race seems to rear it's ugly head even today in 2012 (oh so-and-so is racist!), let's prove chris matthews correct by shunning affirmative action.

garose
garose

Unfortunately, affirmative action has made me discriminate more. I got my first job in the early 60’s before civil rights. At that time you had to name a doctor for health insurance purposes. I was in my 20’s, I was going to live forever and never get sick so I didn’t bother looking for a doctor. After a couple months personnel (not HR) came and said I had to be in the insurance, I had to name a doctor or I would be fired (not terminated).

Now, I was on a short leash, I had to come up with a doctor and I didn’t know how. I was the smartest guy on earth (20’s remember?), my parents were idiots and none of my friends had any advice. Then I got the idea to find a black doctor.

I figured anybody that could put up with the discrimination, ostracization, grade pressure, etc. of medical school and still make it must be one hell of a doctor. I was right. The guy was a god!

Now, with affirmative action, things are different. The lowest level of qualified white applicants are eliminated to let in the top level of unqualified black applicants. This means that on average any white doctor is better than any black doctor. I know the few who would have made it before are still there but how do you tell which is which?

I am now in my 60’s and unfortunately I still have this opinion. Whenever I see a black person the first question that pops into my head is, “Are they really supposed to be here?” I’m sorry, I know it’s wrong but I can’t help myself.

I don’t like affirmative action because whenever I seek someone out whether it be a doctor, a lawyer or a ditch digger I try to find the cream of the crop, the best. Thanks to affirmative action I know the least qualified whites are already gone.

 

Nonaffiliated
Nonaffiliated

Toure doesn't share the Dream: 

- "I cannot be seen through a color blind lens and do not wish to be."

- "Pushing race into the shadows is not the answer."

Almost 50 years ago, when Dr. King gave his speech, any consideration of race carried with it a disadvantage for the non-whites.  As a result, the non-whites dreamed of color-blind decisions,  a society of justice and equality, where rewards were earned by a person's actions rather than the color of their skin.

At some point, the Dream was corrupted.  For people like Toure, equality and justice aren't good enough.  They want something more, based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.  

If the University of Texas wants to grant special consideration to the poor, or those who grow up in single-parent homes, or whatever, then I don't have a problem.  But, when there's a + or - strictly based on race...that's just as wrong now as it was in 1963.

Capricorn King
Capricorn King

Centuries of systematic, institutionalized racism require a systematic, institutionalized response. If you think race isn't a major determining factor (as this article and many others have pointed out) you're probably white.

We'll have reached critical mass when black achievement is no longer "black achievement"  and becomes "achievement."

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

We should not deny any student admission to a university based on their race. Institutions must do all possible to make their schools look like America without allowing under achievement. I don not advocate relaxing standards because of race that is a slap in the face to achievement . I think resources should be expended to get minority students to your school. They should recruit the best and brightest students from around the nation.

SenatorSting
SenatorSting

If your race is the key factor in your life, I pity you. You live in a country where freedom and success are available to any wish to partake. The only thing that affirmative action affirms is racism. Unequal treatment based on skin color. Better hurry up Toure. Your occupation is invested in the non-renewable resource of white guilt, and you're running out quickly.

LogicalPosition
LogicalPosition

White privilege...by White privilege you mean White Parents CARE about their kids enough to see that those kids get that education, food in their bellies, a roof over their heads, a moral upbringing, a J O B, Religion, etc?

Life is about CHOICES and BEHAVIORS, and quite honestly outside a handful of Blacks, that entire race is a disaster. Europeans developing Africa, found the "natives" to be no more than SAVAGES! Sadly "those ppl" were brought to America where the vast majority of them carried on those savage, tribal ways. Even today we see evidence of African Culture in the prisons and ghettos of America. They refused to assimilate!(unless breeding with white women constitutes assimilation)

Out of wedlock birth rates of Blacks...over 70%!

HS Dropout rates....50-80%!

Crime...50% of black males have spent time in jails/prisons!

IQ rates significantly below that of Whites and Asians, SAT scores ditto!

If white privilege is to blame for the failings of Blacks in YOUR MIND, this speaks VOLUMES about the 47% you belong to.

B_Mack_123
B_Mack_123

Is is discrimination when there are race quotas as to enrollment in a school? If you are qualified then you should be able to enroll. It should not depend on the color of your skin, but by the qualifications of the individual. I have friends who are A+ students who cannot enroll in a certain program because of the color of their skin (white). Is this not a form of discrimination? Affirmative action was an important step in discrimination when it was needed, but, in my opinion, this is no longer needed. Also, I didn't care for the quote "The end of affirmative action would have profound implications for higher education, leaving the nation's top universities and graduate schools whiter." Really?

Heterotic
Heterotic

The only rationale for continuing AA is the utter lack of improvement academically by blacks and latinos. Guess what, look in the mirror, that is on those communities. The U.S. has spent over a trillion dollars on the black communities over a 50 year period with little to show for it. Until they change themselves continuing to disadvantage Asian and White students for their benefits is criminal.

Sardonic_Soul
Sardonic_Soul

Affirmative action gave us President Obama.   Thanks a lot!!  What this country DOESN'T need is another officer who "Didn't Build That" degree but rather was given a pass because he's a cool sexy affirmative action "pass" kind of  guy.   We need people who DID build that and CAN build our country what EVER their color.  Enough of the "POOR ME!"   If a black guy has to work 10 times harder to achieve top position, then DAMN I want that guy running MY country because he's going to be 10 times better than anyone else.   The problem with Affirmative Action is it produces weak products, who do a "pass" kind of job.  After 45 months Obama's achieved his starting place.  Woo HOO!  I think I'll "Pass" on affirmative action.

Chris Larson
Chris Larson

Affirmative action is an outdated mandate. The force of moral thought via government institutions and natural liberalization of higher learning campuses have created universities that are blind to race. If you have proven yourself to be a brilliant student and the university feels that you can forward their goals, you will get in. People forget that universities are as self-interested as individuals. A university will forget all about your race, religion, financial bracket and/or sexual orientation if finds what you can contribute as valuable. 

rsynovec
rsynovec

Pick and choose one, are you equal or not. AA is not needed if black America starts taking education serious themselves. We can't lower the standards when black America does not raise theirs. Shameful.

kawliga
kawliga

As long as any group of people is provided special treatment in any way to open any doors it is next to impossible to phrase out that special treatment.  There will always be a reason to keep it and that special group of people will always say "We're not there yet."  Everybody wants to be treated as an equal but they need special treatment to get there.

Dawn Berkley
Dawn Berkley

The Black unemployment rate is related to black culture more than anything, where getting an education is considered "acting white", and is shunned by the community. Low marriage rates and uneducated children having children compounds the problem.

 Add to that the fact that most blacks (including the author) see all solutions to their plight being external, mostly from the government (democrats), and you have a recipe for disaster that is being played out daily in America. 

Besides all of that, Affirmative Action is pure racism. Time to end this abomination and for blacks to start getting their OWN damn house in order instead of  constantly blaming everyone else for their lack of initiative.

LA_Triathlete
LA_Triathlete

In 1965, President Johnson said, "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair."

 

Although things have inproved since 1965, more minorities live in poverty than whites, who enjoy an overwhelming advantage in access to high-quality learning resources and opportunities.  To those who question the need for affirmative action, ask yourselves the following question.  Would your child hava an equal opportunity for college if they attended a poor inner city school district from K-12?  These inner city kids have to overcome many more barriers than their more fortunate competitors.  They are indeed "hobbled by chains".

I don't think affirmative action is the perfect answer.  The UT policy of automatic admission to the top 10% of each high school is a step in the right direction.  I am not a statistical expert, but the Texas statistics are available online and the policy seems to help.  But African-Americans are still under-represented in higher education.  Perhaps there are fewer high schools per capita in the inner city than the subarbs or rural areas.  That might skew the numbers in favor of the more affluent.

Hoop
Hoop

We need affirmative action because Toure is reliant on it.

John David Deatherage
John David Deatherage

Affirmative Action is just racism disguised as social engineering.  Racism is wrong unless the liberal left wants to do it.  Don't forget, individuals pay the price of this idea. Students  that have earned a place in universities based on merit are passed over in favor of someone less qualified but holding membership in some benefited group.  Is racism ever right?

msmischief
msmischief

There is no reason to believe that it will leave universities much whiter.  It is chiefly Asians who get the shaft.

These tends to get ignored -- perhaps because the nonsense becomes altogether too clear when you sacrifice the minority who wasn't even eligible for naturalization when the black was for the black's benefit.

Douglas Hurst
Douglas Hurst

Another ridiculous article.  There is simply too much black achievement in society to warrant the continuation of this.  We have and have had Supreme Cour justices and we now have a black President.  It doesn't matter what field you look at blacks have shown themselves to be the equal of any race.  What's really needed it to get rid of the dinosaurs who make their living as race baitors and free the entire black community would thrive. 

Reva Madison
Reva Madison

Better leave it be, we white folk are going to need it, next year if not sooner.  It was just reported that the white population is already in the minority.  

Abe Lincoln
Abe Lincoln

What garbage.  Dude... I think you need to reread your article and parse it for logical continuity this time.  What a mass of conflicting impulses.

They Call Me Steve
They Call Me Steve

We are no where near critical mass?? So how did Obama get elected?